At halftime against Louisville, Miami was in a position that many did not expect it to be in. The Hurricanes were only up a point in a game that UM was expected to roll away with after the opening tip.
While the game stayed closely contested throughout, Miami forward Norchad Omier was “the difference maker” in UM’s 93-85 win, according to Louisville head coach Kenny Payne.
“You start with the big fella in the middle. [Omier] had 21 points and seven rebounds,” Payne said. “He’s tough to deal with.”
Omier’s consistent production on both ends of the floor proved vital in the Hurricanes’ eight-point win. Offensively, he constantly got to the free-throw line and was efficient when he got there. Omier was 9-of-10 from the charity stripe, tying his career high for made free throws.
Omier also brought out electricity from a mostly full crowd at the Watsco Center with three dunks and two emphatic blocks.
Guard Nijel Pack led Miami in scoring with 22 points. This was also the most that Pack has scored in an ACC game this season, eclipsing the 21-point outing he had earlier in the year against Notre Dame.
The Cardinals, led by a career-high 33 points from senior guard El Ellis, played one of their best offensive games of the season against UM.
Louisville (3-22, 1-13 ACC) shot 57.9% from the field and 43.5% from deep. Its 85-point showing was the most the team scored in a game in ACC play and the second-most it had scored all season.
“I thought Louisville played outstanding basketball,” UM head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “El Ellis is one of the best players in the league, high-octane scorer.”
Needing a way to slow down Ellis, the ‘Canes turned towards Pack, as well as sophomore guard and trusty perimeter defender Bensley Joseph, to do just that. The two guarded Ellis for most of the contest, but the former JUCO product prevailed and delivered what might have been his best game over his two-year tenure with the Cardinals.
This was the fourth game of the season, including the second in ACC play, that UM (20-5, 11-4 ACC) scored at least 90 points. Miami’s victory also extended its home winning streak to 14.
Louisville will try to end its three-game skid on Wednesday against ACC contender Virginia, while Miami will make a quick turnaround and travel to Chapel Hill, N.C. to face the Tar Heels on Monday at 7 p.m.
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